Jamie Olsen was the winner of the 2020 Hinkler Innovation Award.
Jamie Olsen was the winner of the 2020 Hinkler Innovation Award.

Educational dream helps inspire future innovators

HIS family guided the retail and wholesale produce industry from a fledging state in the 1930s, with a corner of town sharing their name.

Now almost 140 years after the Olsen family first called Bundaberg home, Jamie Olsen has helped guide the future entrepreneurs of Bundaberg.

This morning, Mr Olsen won the Hinkler Innovation Award for 2020.

A leap of faith about 10 years ago led him to start his own successful boutique advisory firm, CMB Capital, advising start-up companies, mentoring young entrepreneurs, and growing businesses from early PowerPoint presentations into multimillion dollar success stories.

Six years ago Mr Olsen started the Ingenium program at the University of Melbourne and later adapted it to Kepnock State High School, to encourage and mentor young students with entrepreneurial goals.

Hinkler Innovation Award Winner Jamie Olsen with the Ingenium students from Kepnock High.
Hinkler Innovation Award Winner Jamie Olsen with the Ingenium students from Kepnock High.

“Ingenium is the Latin word for talent, it was really to drive entrepreneurship and that entrepreneurial spirit within my former high school,” he said.

“When I started this at Kepnock, the goal was really to help inspire one student who would go on and do great things and I think it’s become this year, as we’ve expanded the program to cover all year levels and the time I spent with the students yesterday, is I think we’re going to get a lot more than one.

“What young people can produce, when given the support and the skills, is just world class and outstanding and that’s what we need to support in the best way we can as a community.”

Growing up, Mr Olsen dreamt of being a teacher and thought education was his calling.

But while life lead him down a different path, he strengthened what ties he had to the Bundaberg community by creating the Ingenium program and pursuing his passion for education.

“This year there was a bursary awarded to each year level, students had to submit a short two to four minute video pitch and with ideas that would help improve the Bundaberg community off the back of covid,” he said.

“We had a whole range of ideas, but there was one common thread that came through like the concern for mental health, concern for the elderly, concern for the environment.

“I think the program has opened their eyes to what is possible and that they’re now seeing beyond just Bundaberg.

“With covid and the ability to work remotely and all the technologies available, their opportunity is global and that has really come through in the conversations I’ve had with the students.”

Mr Olsen said he believed there were a lot of young future entrepreneurs in the program.

“They are so articulate, they have such a worldly view,” he said.

“I also think entrepreneurship isn’t just starting another business or technology company, it is a way of thinking.

“It is a way of looking at a problem, whether you’re in a bigger business or in a profession, like health or education, and trying to do things differently.

“Making it more efficient, making it more safe, less risk, whatever the objective is. That is entrepreneurship in m view.”

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